House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.


PrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

PrivilegePrivate Members' Business

12:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Members of the Liberal Party are applauding so I will quote some observations on this matter in a very precisely similar case from their former leader, the Right Hon. John Turner, on this question.

Let us put this in context. Last Thursday the government placed on the notice paper, in the name of the Minister of the Environment, notice for a resolution asking the House to approve ratification of the Kyoto protocol. On Sunday the Government of Canada, the same government, ran television advertisements during an important sports event knowing that the ad would be viewed by millions of Canadians.

The television ad spoke of the challenges of climate change. It showed a young Canadian, naturally, holding, naturally, a maple leaf. By the sheerest of coincidence, that ad began running last week before the Grey Cup game, just as the government was deciding on the date for the debate respecting ratification of the Kyoto accord. It rolled out a scroll of organizations that have pronounced themselves on climate change or on the Kyoto protocol. These are prestigious organizations, such as the Royal Society of Canada and several others, but one organization was not on that scroll. The Parliament of Canada was not on that scroll because the Parliament of Canada has not pronounced itself on that issue.

By our law and practice, policy positions of the Parliament of Canada cannot be advertised before they have been adopted by the House of Commons and by the other place.

I do not know whether the advertising contract was tendered or was simply given out to a friend who happened to be hoving by from the Liberal Party. We can only guess at the cost. It would be thousand and thousands of dollars, maybe more than that given the extent of the coverage and the prime time in question. What we do know is that it constitutes a contempt of Parliament.

The sole message to be taken from the ad is that the Kyoto protocol should be ratified. That is the very question that the government is to put to the House and to the other place for a positive or negative decision.

I contend that the practice of using public money to sway public opinion on an issue that is actively before Parliament for a decision is a constructive contempt of the House. It is a deliberate effort on the part of the crown to buy votes in the House of Commons in support of the Kyoto protocol.

The use of taxpayer money to influence a decision by Parliament has been the subject of numerous questions of privilege. I will spare the House of going through the detail and argument of each one of them but one quotation from September 25, 1989, might be to the point. It draws upon comments made by the then leader of the opposition, a former Liberal prime minister of the country, the right hon. John N. Turner. He talked about similar ads and described them this way:

These ads are a flagrant circumvention of a fundamental parliamentary principle that it is the House of Commons, the representatives of the people from every province and territory in this country; that it is we as mandated by the people of Canada; that it is we the fiduciary of the people and only we on behalf of the people of Canada, who will have full control over--

--the policy that this Parliament adopts.

Mr. Turner went on to say:

The right rests with parliament. It does not rest with a few slogan writers in a Tory advertising agency.

Well neither does it rest with writers in a Liberal advertising agency, as was the case here. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. It was a contempt then and it is a contempt now of the House of Commons.

Speaker Fraser delivered a very important ruling directly on this issue on October 10, 1989, found at pages 4457 to 4461 of Hansard. Let me take members through the context. At that time the Speaker was not prepared to make a finding of a prima facie case for a breach of privilege as such that would merit acceptance of motion by the Chair. However he was much less emphatic on the question of contempt. It is my contention that the ruling of the Speaker set the stage for acceptance in the future of a motion dealing with contempt. The Speaker put the cabinet and the public service on notice that future speakers would be entitled to be much less lenient. Let me set the context. I am reading here from the selective decisions of Mr. Speaker Fraser. The context reads:

In August 1989, during the summer recess, the Government placed an advertisement in newspapers across the country stating that the proposed new Goods and Services Tax (GST) would come into effect on January 1, 1991. When the session resumed on September 25, 1989, the Rt. Hon. John Turner (Leader of the Opposition) raised a question of privilege relating to the said advertisement. He was of the opinion that by placing newspaper advertisements announcing an effective date for the GST, the Government denied the role of Parliament in the imposition of taxes and thereby prejudiced proceedings in the House and its committees. Other members also participated in the discussion. On October 10, 1989, the Speaker delivered a ruling--

I will now quote from parts of that ruling. First, Mr. Speaker Fraser at that time distinguished the issue of privilege from the issue of contempt. I quote here from Hansard. Mr. Speaker Fraser said:

...when members claim that a certain action constitutes a breach of privilege, they must specify which privilege is affected.

Contempts, on the other hand, cannot be enumerated or categorized. As Speaker Sauvé explained in a ruling on October 29, 1980, at page 4214 of Hansard:

...“while our privileges are defined, contempt of the House has no limits. When new ways are found to interfere with our proceedings, so too will the House, in appropriate cases, be able to find that a contempt of the House has occurred”.

Broadly speaking, contempts are offences against the authority or the dignity of the House of Commons. They include situations which cannot specifically be claimed as breaches of the privileges of the House. As noted at pages 71 and 143 of Erskine May, twentieth edition:

“Each House also claims the right to punish actions, which, while not breaches of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority or dignity, such as disobedience to its legitimate commands or libels upon itself, its officers or its Members. Such actions, though often called 'breaches of privilege', are more properly distinguished as 'contempts'.

It would be vain to attempt an enumeration of every act which might be construed into a contempt, the power to punish for contempt being in its nature discretionary.... It may be stated generally that any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence”.

Mr. Speaker, that was the distinction by Mr. Speaker Fraser, your distinguished predecessor, between a contempt and a privilege.

Later in his judgment Mr. Speaker Fraser reviewed specific facts in the case then at issue with regard to the GST and, based upon a strict reading of the practices of Parliament with regard to the cases in the GST case, he concluded:

It is difficult to find prima facie contempt.

He then went on, and it is to these words that I want draw the House's attention:

However, I want the House to understand very clearly that if your Speaker ever has to consider a situation like this again, the Chair will not be as generous. This is a case which, in my opinion, should never recur.

That was Mr. Speaker Fraser then. The situation has recurred specifically in this case.

Speaker Fraser went on to say:

I expect the Department of Finance and other departments to study this ruling carefully and to remind everyone within the Public Service that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy, not a so-called administrative democracy.

I believe it is in the interest of our parliamentary system of government to have a clear statement from the Speaker which cannot be misinterpreted either in debate or by a vote. ...which I hope will be well considered in the future by governments, departmental officials and advertising agencies retained by them. This [GST] advertisement may not be a contempt of the House in the narrow confines of a procedural definition, but it is, in my opinion, ill-conceived and it does a great disservice to the great traditions of this place.

If we do not preserve these great traditions, our freedoms are at peril and our conventions become a mockery. I insist, and I believe I am supported by the majority of moderate and responsible Members on both sides of the House, that this ad is objectionable and should never be repeated.

Mr. Speaker Fraser went on to conclude:

I have deliberately made this ruling with great care in order that if ever this issue has to be debated and considered by this House again these comments will serve to guide the House in its deliberations.

Mr. Speaker Fraser could not have been more clear. The situation that he dealt with regarding the GST was precisely the same as the situation that we are dealing with here with regard to an advertisement paid for by public funds without the authorization of Parliament, designed to try to influence the vote of members of the House of Commons and of the other place. It is wrong. It was declared to be wrong by Mr. Speaker Fraser and it is still wrong today.

There is a long history of the abuse of advertising by the government, including Groupaction, Groupe Everest, the long, dismal list of patronage and of corruption. What that meant was that in awarding advertising contracts the government regularly ignored the rules. Here, in exercising advertising contracts, it is ignoring the rights of Parliament and spitting in the face of a ruling by the distinguished former speaker of the House of Commons, Mr. Speaker Fraser.

The important point is not just that Parliament has been warned, but that the public service, the government, all of us have been on notice since 1989 that this sort of advertising was and is an affront to Parliament. Yet that affront has been repeated again by the government with a deliberate attempt to try to get ahead of Parliament and influence its views improperly.

Having been warned clearly, the government should not have stepped over the line. The fact that it has done so should be sufficient for the Speaker to now resolve the issue in favour of a prima facie finding on the issue of a possible contempt and to allow the House of Commons to determine the issue as the House may see fit.

PrivilegePrivate Members' Business

1:05 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the important point here is that the right hon. member and his party are desperate. They are doing whatever they can to in fact avoid debating the question of Kyoto.

Mr. Speaker, let us go back to Mr. Turner's point in 1989, which of course concerned advertising done by the government of which the right hon. member was a minister. That point concerned advertising the claim that something was law that had not yet been passed but was still before Parliament.

The climate change advertising does not claim that the Kyoto protocol has been approved by Parliament. That is a very important distinction. Moreover, considering the outrage expressed by the right hon. member today, I wonder why he did not express the same outrage in 1989 with the same kind of measure if that is what he claims it is. In fact clearly it was a different case entirely, but it is odd that he did not object to it then.

The Prime Minister has said that the decision would be made. The Prime Minister has not suggested that the decision has been taken. He said it would be made. He has said a number of times that the House would make the decision, and it will.

It would seem to me that a member who has been minister of foreign affairs ought to know that ratification of a treaty in fact does not require a resolution of this House to be passed. He ought to know that. How can he not know that?

The motion that is going to be considered by the House, if we ever get to it, and I hope we will, it is in fact an advisory motion. It is not a motion to ratify. It is a motion advising the government on the question of ratifying.

It suggests to me that this series of filibuster issues is not helping us to get to the issue we really want to get to, which is to discuss the question of climate change, of Kyoto. Let us get to it. I hope this apparent malady of Kyoto avoidance syndrome which I see across the way will be overcome and that members will recover from it.

PrivilegePrivate Members' Business

1:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in this question of privilege today.

As has been pointed out, the Speaker's ruling from 1989 did not rule a prima facie question of privilege, but the Speaker did say that if he ever had to consider a situation like that again he would not be as generous. Speaker Fraser was in a quandary and was not sure which side he should rule on, so he gave a warning. He warned that the next time he would rule on the side of granting a prima facie question of privilege.

This sort of thing has happened many times since Speaker Fraser spoke those words, yet no action has been taken. I believe that the government has been given enough chances.

On March 30, 1998, the Minister of Industry sent out a press release titled “Marchi meets with Chinese Leader in Beijing and announces Canada-China Interparliamentary Group”. At that time there was no Canada-China interparliamentary group. The minister gave the impression that the association existed when Parliament had not approved it, much like the ad during the Grey Cup game yesterday.

The head of the Canadian millennium scholarship foundation was announced by the government before legislation was in place to set up the foundation. A similar situation regarding appointments to the Canadian Wheat Board was raised on February 3, 1998. A similar situation arose again on October 28, 1997, regarding the Department of Finance. On Thursday, October 25, 2001, while the House was in session, the minister held a press conference to announce a $75 million bailout for Canada 3000.

These complaints resulted in many warnings from the Chair. One warning from the Speaker came on November 6, 1997. It was as strong as Speaker Fraser's warning, and it went like this:

...the Chair acknowledges that this is a matter of potential importance since it touches the role of members as legislators, a role which should not be trivialized. It is from this perspective that the actions of the Department of Finance are of some concern...This dismissive view of the legislative process, repeated often enough, makes a mockery of our parliamentary conventions and practices...I trust that today's decision at this early stage of the 36th Parliament will not be forgotten by the minister and his officials and that the departments and agencies will be guided by it.

If this House is to function with authority and dignity, then it must be respected, especially by its own members.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you rule that this matter be a prima facie question of privilege.

PrivilegePrivate Members' Business

1:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Once again, I am prepared to deal with this matter, having heard the submissions from the right hon. member for Calgary Centre, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader and the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast.

When the right hon. member for Calgary Centre started his remarks I immediately recalled the ruling of Mr. Speaker Fraser to which he alluded so extensively in his comments. It was one of the early rulings in the House after I was first a member of this place and I certainly remember the day it happened. I remember the ruling with some considerable clarity and I certainly remember the words at the end of the ruling that the right hon. member quoted.

I certainly agreed with them, but in this case I think the matter is quite clear. I might go back to the earlier part of the ruling where he quoted the then leader of the opposition. He read part of the notice, the advertisement, that was complained of. It read as follows:

On January 1, 1991, Canada's Federal Sales Tax System will change. Please save this notice. It explains the changes and the reasons for them.

Then Mr. Speaker Fraser said:

I point out that this ad was a full-page ad and the letters were very large indeed.

Then he repeated those particular words in French. The suggestion was that these changes were in fact already passed, and the tenor of the advertisement was extremely important in this regard and very important in regard to Mr. Speaker Fraser's ruling, as he said, first of all, that the date was fixed as to when these changes would come in when in fact the act had not been passed by Parliament, and second, that it said to save the notice because there would be no changes, that this was the way the tax would be, that “you can save this notice now knowing that this is the way it is going to be on January 1, 1991”.

It was those two points that were made by Mr. Turner as objections to this particular advertising campaign and with which Mr. Speaker Fraser expressed his grave reservations at the end because of those two particular points.

I can go back to another decision of Madam Speaker Sauvé.

On October 17, 1980 a point of privilege like the one raised today by the right hon. member for Calgary Centre was raised.

She dealt with an objection to a government advertising campaign at that time, where there was the suggestion that advertising on behalf of a partisan policy or opinion before such policy or opinion had been approved by the House was a contempt of the House. She found it was not.

Generally advertising has been permitted, but what has been criticized and was criticized by Mr. Speaker Fraser, and where he had his reservations concerning the advertising campaign, was where the advertisement itself stated that there would be an implementation date and that the material in the ad was the final product. That was the objection. That, in my understanding, was the basis of the objection taken by the then leader of the opposition. It was found not to be a sound objection, but Mr. Speaker Fraser did indicate that if it happened again he might rule quite differently.

Nothing in the words that the right hon. member quoted to the Chair concerning the advertisements this weekend indicated that this was a fait accompli or that the matter was decided in a particular way. As I understand it, they indicated that the matter was before Parliament. Advertising for or against is something that has been allowed in the past, as long as the suggestion in the ad, as in this case of the goods and services tax advertisements, did not indicate that the decision had in fact been made and that no change would be made by Parliament.

That was the point of the alleged contempt which Mr. Speaker Fraser found so objectionable, and I cannot find anything in the evidence I have heard today respecting these advertisements that would indicate that this is in fact the case in these ads. While I am sure there will be differences of opinion in the House as to whether or not public funds should be spent advertising some matter that is before the House, my predecessors in this chair have consistently ruled that it is not for the Chair to interfere in that unless those advertisements themselves somehow suggest that Parliament has no say in the matter or that the whole issue is one that has been decided in advance and Parliament will decide this way on or before a certain date.

I cannot find that in the circumstances before us, and accordingly I do not find that there is valid question of privilege at this time, but obviously the content of ads sometimes changes and I am sure that the right hon. member will continue to be vigilant and if there are advertisements that he feels are objectionable he will raise them with the Chair at a later date and of course receive a hearing.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is in regard to the motion on the Order Paper calling for the ratification of the Kyoto protocol by this House.

I submit that the motion is out of order and cannot be received by the Chair.

On October 29 of this year, the House adopted a motion sponsored by me, as Leader of the Opposition, on October 24. It read:

That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached and its costs.

I am aware that motions calling on the government to act or not act are not binding on the government. However, the motion adopted on October 29 was not such a motion. It was an order of the House applying restrictions on itself in regard to a motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol.

The motion begins with “That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House”. It does not say “Before the government ratifies the Kyoto protocol”. It states before “the House” ratifies the Kyoto protocol, and the only way for the House to ratify the Kyoto protocol is through a motion.

This is not uncommon. In the last Parliament a motion was moved restricting the use of time allocation and closure. It stated that for the remainder of the session the Chair could not receive such motions.

Perhaps you will remember that one, Mr. Speaker. I think you were in the Chair when the motion was moved and adopted. You are also aware that the government was anxious to rescind the motion, but since it did not have the use of closure it was in a bit of a pickle. In a pickle or not, the House order was in play and the government could not move time allocation or closure until the motion was rescinded.

Let us consider another example. The House frequently adopts what has become known as the autopilot motion. With autopilot motions we have a situation whereby the House puts restrictions on the moving of dilatory motions and unanimous consent motions. These autopilot motions actually go so far as to restrict themselves from complying with a constitutional requirement regarding quorum.

The quorum in this House is a requirement of the Constitution Act, section 48. While I recognize that the quorum necessity of 20 is not altered directly, the inability to bring to the attention of the Chair the lack of quorum in the House indirectly waives the constitutional procedural requirement of quorum. Since a quorum call is the only means by which quorum is enforced during a sitting, the inability call quorum is in essence the same as waiving the quorum requirement.

Our motion of October 24 does not even come close to the restrictions placed upon the House by the autopilot motions.

At the beginning of this Parliament, the government House leader introduced a particularly nasty motion that placed unreasonable restrictions on members' ability to introduce report stage amendments.

The motion read:

For greater clarity, the Speaker will not select for debate a motion or series of motions of a repetitive, frivolous or vexatious nature or of a nature that would serve merely to prolong unnecessarily proceedings at the report stage and, in exercising this power of selection, the Speaker shall be guided by the practice followed in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

The member for Elk Island moved an amendment that read:

That the motion be amended by adding:

and for even greater clarity, the Speaker may select for debate all motions, regardless of their nature, if in his or her opinion the rights of the minority have been infringed upon in any way.

Unfortunately the amendment was defeated and the main motion passed. As a result, the opposition's ability to delay legislation was impeded. The government's motion placed certain conditions on members' ability to introduce report stage motions. My point is that the House can place restrictions upon itself and, in the case of the motion adopted on October 29, those restrictions are clear.

Even if a motion is adopted that only calls on the government to take some sort of action, there is an expectation and obligation on the part of the government to comply. If the government fails to comply, I think our reaction to its inaction depends on the circumstances. If the government discovers after examination that it is unable to comply because of budgetary restraints, for example, then that may be legitimate and may explain why a government is not bound to a motion. On the other hand, a government that knowingly votes for a motion with the full knowledge that it has no inclination to give effect to the motion is clearly in contempt of the House, and I think the House should take action.

The Deputy Prime Minister was musing that Canada may not have to comply with the ratification of the Kyoto protocol, so Canadians should not worry about Canada signing on. With that statement, a case could be made that the government voted for the Alliance motion thinking that it did not have to comply either. This constitutes, in my opinion, an insult to the House and demeans members and the role they play.

Do members recall when the Liberals were in opposition and the government was advertising the GST as if it were law before the legislation was passed? It raised this in the House and the Speaker ruled on it on October 10, 1989. The Speaker quoted the former member for Windsor West, Herb Gray, who said:

When this advertisement--says in effect there will be a new tax on January 1, 1991,--the advertisement is intended to convey the idea that Parliament has acted on it because that is, I am sure, the ordinary understanding of Canadians about how a tax like this is finally adopted and comes into effect. That being the case, it is clearly a contempt of Parliament because it amounts to a misrepresentation of the role of this House.

If the House adopts the motion that sets out conditions before the Kyoto protocol can be ratified and those conditions are not met, then, as Herb Gray argued, the ordinary understanding would be that the Kyoto protocol ought not to be ratified.

We have had numerous other examples that resulted in Speaker's rulings. On November 6, 1997, Speaker Parent said:

Nonetheless, the Chair acknowledges that this is a matter of potential importance since it touches the role of members as legislators, a role which should not be trivialized...This dismissive view of the legislative process, repeated often enough, makes a mockery of our parliamentary conventions and practices.

If the Deputy Prime Minister wants to make a mockery of international treaties, then Canada will pay a price. If he is making a mockery of the role of the House and its members, then he and his government should pay a price.

Even if the motion did call on the government to take action, a good case could be argued that this would allow the House to take action against the government. However, as I said earlier, the motion does not call on the government, but is a motion restricting the House from considering any motion that ratifies the Kyoto protocol before there is an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached, and its costs. Since there is no such plan the motion is out of order or, at a minimum, cannot be moved until the conditions in the motion from October 24 have been complied with.

The House may have noted that in the Order Paper of Wednesday, November 20 a number of questions and motions have been put on notice that address the matter of my point of order.

Question No. 52 reads:

As part of the Implementation plan for the Kyoto Protocol as called for in the motion adopted by the House on October 24, 2002, is the government guaranteeing that energy taxes will not be increased in a bid to reach its Kyoto targets?

Question No. 53 reads:

As part of the implementation plan for the Kyoto Protocol as called for in the motion adopted by the House on October 24, 2002, is the government warranting its price increase projection and is it planning on covering anything over and above those projections?

The preambles to Questions Nos. 55, 56 and 57 are identical, but they ask different questions regarding provincial jurisdiction, and grants and contributions to pro-Kyoto groups.

You will also note, Mr. Speaker, the appearance of a number of motions for the production of papers on Wednesday, November 20. The theme of these motions is the same as the questions I just referred to: Motion No. P-18 inquires into documents from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regarding the benefits, targets and costs of Kyoto; P-19 is concerned with the Department of Industry; P-20 is concerned with the Department of Transport; P-21 is concerned with the Department of the Environment; P-22 targets documents in the Department of Agriculture; P-23, Department of Natural Resources; P-24, the National Energy Board; and P-25 seeks documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

On Thursday, November 21 another motion for the production of papers appeared on notice, and it too seeks documents relating to the plan and the conditions set out in the motion adopted by the House on October 29.

All these questions and motions are desperately seeking any evidence that the government has complied with the motion passed on October 29. To date not a shred of evidence has come forward from the government through these legitimate tools of inquiry that are available to members of Parliament. Therefore, it is conclusive that the conditions contained in the motion passed on October 29 have not been met and therefore the motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol cannot be moved in the House.

If we look at what is available publicly to members there is no evidence at this moment that the conditions have been met either. On November 21 the government released its latest Kyoto implementation thoughts or ideas.

There was little new in that document. The government admitted again that it had no idea how much its made in Japan deal would cost. The entire document contained only a single dollar figure, the $1.6 billion we have already spent before even getting off the starting block.

The government admitted that it had no idea how the accord would be implemented, that no legislation had been prepared and the government had no idea which level of government would have to pass legislation. The new paper still does not contain enough ideas to meet the government's 240 megatonne made in Japan commitment. Canada would still be between 30 megatonnes and 60 megatonnes short and that is under some very optimistic thinking.

The proposed new partnership fund lays the groundwork for a massive invasion of provincial jurisdiction and a massive new bureaucracy and spending. At a minimum the costs of the plan should include the costs to the government to administer the plan. Those costs cannot be known until the next budget is presented. The vote on the ratification of Kyoto must at least wait until presentation of the budget.

Referring back to the motion introduced by the government House leader regarding report stage amendments, the Speaker decides if conditions to place report stage amendments before the House are met.

With respect to the conditions to allow a motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol, the decision also rests with the Speaker to determine if the conditions of the motion adopted on October 29 have been met. I have made a strong argument that those conditions have not been met.

Therefore, the government motion dealing with the ratification of the Kyoto protocol cannot be received by the Chair. The House order adopted on October 29, 2002, clearly restricts any such motion from being considered.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I spoke earlier in relation to the Progressive Conservative Party seeming to have the Kyoto avoidance syndrome. I do not know if it is a virus or a bacteria, but it seems to be spreading.

This is a novel argument because what the leader of the Alliance is arguing is that an error regarding the Constitution, that he has made, should override the Constitution and should bind the House in some way. Clearly it does not change the Constitution. The Constitution provides that the executive, not Parliament, shall ratify international treaties.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

The cabinet voted for it.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

He is saying we voted for it. Is he suggesting that the House can change the Constitution by itself? I do not believe for one second that he is suggesting that, on a motion without legislation even, the House can change the Constitution.

Moreover, the examples to which he referred all had legislation attached to them. This does not. It is an advisory motion as I mentioned earlier because it is the executive that ratifies the treaty under our Constitution.

A plan, given to meeting the requirements of Kyoto, has been tabled in the House. The member suggests there is no plan or he is not happy with the plan. How can he know whether he would be happy with the plan or not when he has not heard the debate on the matter. Why is it that these opposition parties refuse to have the debate? Why are they so reluctant to get to the heart of the matter that is of so great concern to Canadians who vastly support this initiative? Why not get on with this and stop the shenanigans?

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to contribute to the debate. Perhaps I can best do so by answering the question of the parliamentary secretary. We have before the House a motion. It reads:

That this House call upon the government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

A short while ago this motion was dealt with and finalized in the House. I stress these words because of what Erskine May states, that before the Kyoto protocol is ratified by the House, which is what the government motion today asks us to do, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits how the targets are to be reached and with what costs.

The motion is clear and succinct, and was passed by this very House. The motion was dealt with. Here we have part of the same motion, regardless of whether Parliament has to deal with Kyoto or not, that does not make any difference. What makes the difference is there is a resolution on the floor that is similar to one that has already been dealt with by the House.

The Speaker recently argued that the motion that was put forth by the Alliance was in order because a similar one put forth by the government had not been dealt with by the House. Time ran out before the vote.

Erskine May states that a motion or an amendment may not be brought forward which is the same in substance as a question which has been decided in the affirmative or negative during the current session. We have dealt with a motion that is similar in substance. Consequently, the motion cannot be brought forward today.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Once again the hon. Leader of the Opposition has raised an interesting point concerning the supply motion adopted on October 29 earlier this year. The motion has been quoted by both hon. members of the opposition who have spoken on this matter and I thank them for their submissions.

However I point out that the motion reads that before the Kyoto protocol is ratified by the House there should be an implementation plan. It does not say there shall be, or there must be, or there has to be. This motion is permissive. It suggests that there ought to be, that somehow we should have this. That is the first point that must be made to the House.

The second point is that we do have an implementation plan that was tabled last Thursday in the House by the minister. I know there are disagreements about whether it is good or sufficient in accordance with the terms of the motion that was adopted on October 29, but it is hardly for the Speaker to express a view on the quality of the material that the minister submitted to the House. However something was indeed submitted.

If the Speaker is wrong in his interpretation of the use of the word should in the motion, there is still the argument, in my view a valid one, that some kind of document, being an implementation plan of some sort, has been tabled in the House. Whether it is going to be good enough for everybody is of course a matter of considerable argument, I have no doubt, and one that no doubt we are going to hear about during the course of the argument on the motion that is coming before the House, which has been put to the House today by the Minister of the Environment.

In the circumstances, I do not think it is for the Chair to rule that the government cannot proceed because of an alleged violation of this motion adopted on October 29, which in my view expresses an ought. Even if I am wrong that interpretation has been complied with in my view by the tabling that was made by the minister last Thursday. Accordingly, I do not find the point of order well raised and I intend to proceed to put the motion to the House.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I accept your ruling, although I note your lack of confidence in the substance of this so-called implementation plan put forward by the government.

I do have a second point of order. It is also in regard to the motion on the Order Paper in which the House has been asked to call upon by the government to ratify the Kyoto protocol. I would submit that this motion is also out of order and cannot be received by the Chair for quite separate reasons than those I submitted in my first point of order.

We need to start with the basics. The first stage of treaty making is signature. In the case of the Kyoto protocol that occurred on April 29, 1998. However mere signature does not bind a state to the terms of a treaty until the second stage, which is ratification. However the Vienna convention on the law of treaties 1969 specifically provides in articles 2(1) , 14(1) and 16 that, “The institution of ratification grants states the necessary timeframe to seek the required approval for the treaty on the domestic level and to enact the necessary legislation to give domestic effect to that treaty”. The clear implication here is that all necessary legislation to implement the terms of a treaty should be in place prior to ratification.

In Canada there has developed a very firm practice in regard to the necessary steps that must be taken before ratification can occur. Maurice Copithorne, who is one of the leading treaty experts in Canada, has stated that all legislation must be in place prior to ratification. In an article published in 1996, in volume 54 of The Advocate , a journal for lawyers in British Columbia, he categorically states, at page 37 that:

A treaty that is deemed to create obligations upon Canada that can be implemented only by a change in the laws requires legislative action. Normally the Canadian government withholds ratification of such a treaty until such legislation is passed.

This has been reinforced in his most recent but as yet unpublished material on the subject entitled, “National Treaty Law and Practice: Canada”, a copy of which we will provide to the Chair. He states at page 6 that:

--governments have come to take the position that they will normally only ratify a treaty after a necessary and enabling legislation has been passed.

What gives his opinion even more authority is that it has been applied in cases coming before the courts. In 1999 the Hon. Justice Owen-Flood of the British Columbia Supreme Court in the case of Re Stuckey, cited as BCSC BL0078, gave full legal sanction to this opinion.

On page 7 of his reasons for judgment, his lordship relied on the statement by Mr. Copithorne in the published article to which I referred. He quoted that statement directly and stated that it was “the best statement of the law and practice for the purpose of the case at bar”.

As a further authority, I cite Mr. Daniel Dupras of the law and government division of our own parliamentary library in a publication entitled, “International Treaties: Canadian Practice” dated April 3, 2000. On page 7 he states that for a treaty to be ratified is in the form of a

--document establishing that the formalities for the coming into force and implementation of the treaty have been completed.

Mr. Dupras goes on to say, and quite definitively, at page 6 that:

In cases requiring amendments to Canadian legislation, the treaty is not ratified until such amendments or new legislation have been passed.

The ultimate statement for our purposes is at page 8 where our parliamentary librarian states:

Where a bill must be passed in order to implement a treaty is not passed, Canada cannot ratify the treaty.

Therefore it is both a requirement of international law and established practice which has been applied in our courts of law for the government not to ratify a treaty that requires legislation for its implementation until the legislation itself has been passed by this House.

It is conceded by everyone, including the government, that for the Kyoto protocol to be implemented, it will require the passage of legislation by this House. The leader of the government in the Senate has announced publicly that there will be such necessary legislation tabled in this House but that the government cannot do so until some time next spring. Yet the Prime Minister in the House has stated that the government intends to ratify Kyoto before the end of this year.

It goes without saying that it will be impossible for the government to prepare, table and pass such enabling legislation before the deadline for ratification that the Prime Minister has announced.

These announcements by the government, coupled with the tabling of this motion by the government in the House and asking the House to pass such a resolution, constitutes a complete breach of all these established and recognized practices and rules for ratification of treaties in Canada, I would emphasize practices and rules which have been applied by our courts of law. In the absence of necessary legislation to implement the terms of the treaty not as yet passed by the House, the motion asks the House to approve the government's breach of the rules.

As the authorities I have referred to clearly show, governments do not proceed to ratification until the necessary enabling legislation is first passed by the House. It is important that we follow the customary procedures and past practice of the House in this regard.

As an example, the North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified by this government in 1994, but only after the passage by the House of the necessary legislation, namely the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act in 1993.

I could cite other examples such as the World Trade Organization agreement and the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, both of which were ratified by the current government after following the correct practice and having any necessary implementing legislation introduced, debated and passed by the House before ratification.

The other important precedent is of course the process followed for the ratification of the original free trade agreement. As we all know, this very important treaty was not ratified until the House and this Parliament passed the necessary implementing legislation and it took a fresh general election to make that happen.

Therefore, the House is being asked by this motion to condone and place its seal of approval on the ratification of a treaty by the government at a time when the government has not taken the necessary steps as required by international law and authoritative practice. This is a clear breach of the customary practices of the House in which the House would never be asked to give its approval to ratification of a treaty to occur virtually immediately thereafter at a time when the necessary implementing legislation has not already been passed by the House. This is the case of the government getting the proverbial procedural horse before the cart.

However, in addition to constituting a breach of the customary procedures of the House, this attempt by the government to obtain such approval for ratification from the House at this time is also both contemptuous of the House and a breach of our privileges. Therefore, the action of the government in placing a motion on the Order Paper and moving it forward for debate is fundamentally repugnant to decided international law, Canadian law and practice and the customary practices of the House.

In conclusion I would submit that the government's motion that the House at this time call upon the government to ratify the Kyoto protocol, as it appears on the Order Paper, cannot be received by the Chair and should be struck from the Order Paper. It is simply contrary to the customary practices of the House and is out of order.

I am going to submit for your review, Mr. Speaker, a number of documents that I have referred to in raising this point of order, and they also contain documents related to another matter which I may wish to raise.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Mississauga South Ontario


Paul Szabo LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we have had a number of points of order. This point of order is substantively on the same matter.

It is clear that the subject matter, being the ratification of the Kyoto protocol, is an important matter to this place. That opposition members have raised substantive argument for the Chair to consider is evidence of that fact.

We have been advised on many occasions that delay and disruption of this place is a legitimate part of the democratic process and we will respect the points of view of members and certainly respect the position of the Chair.

The motion says that the House call upon Parliament to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change. It is an interesting motion by its very simplicity considering the significant importance and complexity of the matter at hand.

The hon. leader of the official opposition has suggested that the motion is out of order. It would be my argument that when a motion comes before this place and calls upon Parliament to advise the government or to do something, on a prima facie basis that is not binding. That is a very significant point in this matter. Should Parliament call upon government to do anything, that on the face of that motion it is not binding on the government and therefore the motion now before the House is of the same nature as a take note debate.

It is probably one of the most significant decisions to be made with regard to climate change issues and to the health of Canadians that Parliament will ever take. It is a very important issue and it is important to members on all sides throughout this place. It is important because we have a range of concerns and issues that Canadians have expressed. Parliamentarians have expressed concerns on behalf of their constituents. They have been asked to come forward to share with the rest of their colleagues in Parliament, those concerns, issues and their relative importance. There is no simple solution to this, but the important thing is that this is not a binding resolution of Parliament.

Second, in all the resolutions we have had so far, the examples used clearly have had to do with legislation. This does not have to do with legislation. This is an executive decision. It may subsequently require legislation in terms of implementing principles. That may be possible. We do not know at this point. However I know that the Prime Minister of Canada announced to Canadians several months ago that the Government of Canada would ratify the Kyoto protocol before the end of the year.

That is a very definitive statement and that is a reflection of the executive decision power of the Government of Canada. That is not a motion for consideration by Parliament. It is a not a bill or any kind of qualified statement. It is an assertion and a commitment of the Government of Canada to ratify the Kyoto protocol. The fact that the Prime Minister was prepared to announce that intention of the Government of Canada is prima facie evidence that this is an executive decision. We have to ask why did the opposition members not raise these points of order back then when the House resumed after our summer break.

Why was there not a challenge? If the decision of the Chair ratifies the fact that this is an executive decision and not a matter for parliament to decide, not a decision where Parliament in fact would be overriding the Constitution of Canada and would also reaffirm that this motion in fact is not binding on the Government of Canada, on that basis alone I understand fully that the opposition members would like to obstruct and delay the discussion of Kyoto. I respect their right to do that, but I want them also to know that there are others in this place that want to talk about the Kyoto protocol.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I must say that this is the most bizarre argument I have ever heard on any issue. The parliamentary secretary is saying that we should not worry about the rules that apply to this debate because the debate does not matter anyway, that no one is going to pay any attention to it, so do not worry about the rules. We on this side of the House believe that the views and the debates in the House of Commons matter. It is a question of absolute contempt for the parliamentary secretary to have said what he has just said.

To come to the point that was raised by the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, either this motion means something or it does not. The parliamentary secretary says it does not, which means it is an affront to the House to bring it here. However if it means something, then surely the government is bound to follow the practice that has been established for years, the practice that has been outlined by the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, and deal with implementation before it deals with ratification.

The government cannot have it both ways. It cannot ignore history as it is trying to do and it cannot say that this matter is terribly important but it does not matter at all. That is an affront to common sense.

I want to come to common sense for just a moment. The Leader of the Opposition very ably has raised the practices that have been followed here with respect to votes on ratification, many of which I have some familiarity with. I had the privilege of introducing some of the measures that led to those international treaties. He very correctly and irrefutably set forth the law and the practice. Had his argument been refutable, the parliamentary secretary would have refuted it, but he did not do that. He simply said that the debate does not matter so do not talk about rules. The precedent is very clear.

Let us speak for a moment about common sense because precedent and practice is based upon common sense. How can we ratify something when we do not know what it is? It is precisely that question, precisely compelling logic that a Parliament must know what it is voting on before it votes that has created the precedent cited earlier by the Leader of the Opposition. That is why we have implementation before we have ratification. That is why the government comes forth with what it is that it proposes to do before it asks us to approve that kind of action.

It is not as though the government has not had time to spell out what it is asking Parliament to do. It has had more than five years. It was in November 1997, five years ago now, that there first was a meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial governments to try to deal with this issue. It is another question that the government, in all its arrogance, walked away from the agreement that was reached in that federal-provincial conference and said it did not need the provinces. In effect, it is saying the same thing now, that it does not need Parliament because the votes that Parliament casts on issues of this kind do not matter.

It is not as though it has not had time. It has had plenty of time. It has been five full years, five wasted years and we still do not know and it still does not know what it is it is asking the House of Commons to vote upon in the motion that it has brought forward today. There is no certainty. The government has this the wrong way around. It is asking us to vote for something when it itself does not know what it is asking to have approved. That is an affront to the House.

More to the point, the very reasoned argument brought forward by the leader of Her Majesty's opposition is clear. The precedents are clear. This practice breaks those precedents. That breach of precedent means that the motion being presented here today should not be allowed to come before the House.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that at some point the Chair will feel that it has heard a sufficient amount of contributions in this matter so mine will be very brief.

I read very attentively the motion that was adopted by the House some weeks ago. It says that before the Kyoto protocol is ratified by the House there should be an implementation plan. This is not a House order and everyone knows that. That is my first point.

My second point is that this debate is consultative with the House. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services was very eloquent in expressing that this is a consultative debate. It is hard for anyone to construct a scenario by which a consultative debate would be out of order. The government has put the motion on the Order Paper. It has offered to consult Parliament prior to the ratification of the accord which will take place before the end of the year.

Earlier today the opposition moved closure on the debate even before it started. It moved to shut it down before it started. Being the person that I am, I am very much against the use of these coercive devices except when I absolutely have to. Pursuant to objections from across the way, Mr. Speaker will understand that I do not want to indulge in that part very long.

Mr. Speaker knows there is absolutely no reason why this motion would be considered anything else but fully in order because of its consultative nature. The Prime Minister wants to consult Parliament prior to ratification. The House should congratulate itself for the initiative that the right hon. Prime Minister has seen fit to put before the House.

Members have asked questions on this accord and now the Prime Minister is consulting them. Maybe they do not want to be consulted. Maybe they want to go home early for Christmas. Maybe they want to adjourn Parliament, but the Prime Minister wants to consult Parliament and it is fully in order for us to consult Parliament and through it, Canadians.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I ask you please to consider the words of the parliamentary secretary. He said that if we pass the motion that may be before the House today calling upon the government to act, which is what the motion says, it does not bind the government to anything, that it is just a take note debate.

Consider what that means to the average parliamentarian. We are not in cabinet and we are not sure what cabinet is going to do, but when we call upon the government to act, damn it, we expect it to act. When we do not have that assurance, then how can we possibly vote on this? It is out of order.

Points of OrderPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is prepared to rule insofar as the following. The Leader of the Opposition has raised a very serious matter. Obviously a great deal of time and effort has gone into preparing the arguments that he has presented to the House.

I would submit to the House that the Chair would also want to have the benefit of some time for reflection and deliberation to arrive at and to deliver its final ruling on the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I also want to thank the other members who intervened, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the right hon. member for Calgary Centre and the hon. member for Fraser Valley.

Procedurally as regards the debate going ahead on government business No. 9, I have not heard anything at this point that would lead me to not allow that debate to go on. The Chair obviously gives its undertaking to come back to the House as soon as possible, certainly well before this debate ends, as to the ruling on the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition.

At this time, it being 2 p.m., we will proceed to statements by members.

Prince Alexandre de MerodeStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I rise today to note the passing of a great world leader in the fight against doping in sport. I am referring to the late Prince Alexandre de Merode of Belgium who passed away on November 19.

Prince Alexandre had been an International Olympic Committee member since 1964. In 1967 he created the IOC's medical commission, a panel on which he served as chairman since its creation.

Prince Alexandre was the world's leading advocate in the fight against doping in sport. Alexandre de Merode was a prominent international figure in promoting the Olympic values of integrity, fair play and drug-free sport. His passing is a loss to the world of sport and to the Olympic movement.

The Grey CupStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Congratulations, Montreal.

Mr. Speaker, the Montreal Alouettes were winners of the Grey Cup game played yesterday in Edmonton.

Both teams showed the kind of drive, determination and spontaneous action that is required to play our wonderful, unique Canadian Football League rules. The field of frozen grass had the traction of a skating rink and all players had to react to the true north Canadian challenge. Shania Twain's halftime appearance was in keeping with Edmonton in November, complete with parkas and gloves for the band.

The Canadian Football League is to be commended for a showcase this Grey Cup and the job it has done in filling seats and having people view the game on television this year. The CFL showed yesterday what a fine professional organization it is. The game yesterday was a complete sellout and a rousing celebration of our game and the culture that surrounds it, despite the sponsorship dollars that were shovelled in by the Liberals.

Our most profound congratulations go out to the Montreal Alouettes, the Edmonton Eskimos, and the people of Edmonton who once again showed through their hospitality and goodwill that Edmonton truly is the city of champions.

Saint Mary's HuskiesStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to this year's Vanier Cup champions, the Saint Mary's Huskies from Halifax, Nova Scotia. To make the victory even sweeter, this is the Huskies' second Vanier Cup in a row, a feat managed only three times in Canadian history and not once in the past 25 years. The players, the coaches and the Saint Mary's community all deserve our thanks and congratulations.

I do have to confess, however, that the team's road to victory was bittersweet for me. It finished with playoff victories over McMaster in the Churchill Bowl, and I am said to say, my alma mater of Saint FX in the AUFC title.

Once again, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating the two time Vanier Cup victors, the Saint Mary's Huskies.

Violence against WomenStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations General Assembly has declared this day as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, dramatized most recently by the violence in Nigeria. This day also marks the beginning in Canada of a 16 day period of activism against gender violence.

In the words of the General Assembly resolution, “violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace”.

Women around the world continue to be victimized by gender violence, particularly sexual violence against women in armed conflict and violence against refugee and vulnerable women.

In Canada 50% of women by age 16 have been the victim of at least one incident of physical or sexual violence, yet gender violence remains among the most unseen and unpunished of all the violations of universal human rights.

We should strengthen our call to eradicate gender violence and protect its victims; reaffirm our commitment to the empowerment of women throughout the world; re-examine the power relations in our communities so that we may eliminate all forms of gender subordination and discrimination; and make it clear that women's rights are human rights, and human rights mean nothing if they do not also include the rights of women.

University of New BrunswickStatements by Members

November 25th, 2002 / 2 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the new president of the University of New Brunswick, Dr. John McLaughlin, for his current campaign to increase access to post-secondary education in New Brunswick, to advance UNB's profile as a research and teaching institution, and to improve the economic and cultural development of our province generally.

The future economy of Atlantic Canada will be determined by investment in post-secondary education and research and development. It is essential that parliamentarians, educators, students and community leaders work together to ensure that our region benefits from this kind of investment on par with the rest of Canada.

The last federal budget included a $200 million one time indirect costs and research investment. It is imperative that this investment is made permanent and that the emphasis on capacity building in small and medium sized universities be maintained.

These kinds of investments are absolutely critical, not only to our universities but to our entire region. I salute Dr. McLaughlin for the energy that he is bringing to this vital issue.

Violence Against WomenStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is the international day to end violence against women. With origins dating back to the 1960s, this day is a call for national governments to take action to eliminate gender based violence.

Women around the world continue to face abuses on a daily basis. Every 15 seconds in America a woman is battered. Every 23 seconds in South Africa a woman is raped. In Iran and Nigeria, women are routinely stoned to death for things as innocent as attendance at a birthday party. In Bangladesh, 47% of women have been physically abused in their lifetimes. Between 114 million and 130 million women worldwide, some as young as two years old, have had their genitals mutilated for cultural reasons.

Lofty statements and ideals are not enough. The apathy shown by the government to such violations of human rights is nothing short of criminal. Canada needs to show some leadership and stop hiding behind political correctness.

Royal Canadian LegionStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to offer my congratulations to The Royal Canadian Legion which was founded on this day in 1925.

Canada's veterans share a bond unlike any other, a bond of comradeship which was forged through their time of the battlefields of two world wars, the Korean war, the Gulf war and numerous peacekeeping operations.

This bond has been strengthened over the years by the work of the Royal Canadian Legion. One cannot help but be impressed and inspired by the countless acts of charity and community work that the legion performs in communities right across the country every day.

The members of The Royal Canadian Legion are supporting their country today just as they did during the darkest days of war. We salute the Royal Canadian Legion and its long record of national service.

The Grey CupStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to add the warmest of congratulations from the Bloc Quebecois to the thousands of Montreal Alouette fans. They may have had to wait 25 years to do it, but the Alouettes are finally taking Lord Earl Grey's cup back to Montreal.

This great victory leaves a bad taste in the mouths of French-speaking fans, however. How could we not comment on the fact that thousands of Quebeckers and French Canadians could not follow the exploits of the Alouettes in French unless they had cable? What excuse can there be for such a major sporting event, one of the major sponsors of which was the Government of Canada, not being able to attract the attention of those in charge of Radio-Canada? After the threatened demise of La Soirée du hockey , Radio-Canada has done it again and, in league with the CFL, has once again penalized francophone sports fans. This is one time too many.